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For centuries, wedding traditions have been borrowed from across cultural lines to ensure luck, happiness, fertility and fortitude. Most wedding customs Americans hold dear are rituals that in fact come from somewhere else.


The tradition of a bride wearing something old, new, borrowed and blue stems from Victorian English times. The classic American wedding cake originates from ancient Rome, where they used to break a loaf of bread over the bride’s head to enhance fertility. Attaching tin cans to the wedding car is a French folk custom. Wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand stems from an Egyptian belief that the vein in that hand led straight to the heart. Bridal bouquets originally consisted of herbs like rosemary, dill and garlic to ward off evil spirits and bad smells in 15th century Europe.

We’re fortunate to live in a time where we can tailor our weddings to suit ourselves, our budgets, our families and our stories. My mom walked me down the aisle. My British mother-in-law arrived with a myrtle branch to tuck into my bouquet for love and offered a sixpence coin to wear in my shoe for luck. The lyrics to a John Lennon song are engraved in our wedding rings. A potter friend made a porcelain goblet from which we sipped during the ceremony. This sharing of the symbolic “cup of life” is a ritual that hails back to ancient Greece.

Wedding traditions contribute to the rich weft and weave of modern global life. Your wedding provides the perfect opportunity to recognize ancestral roots, honor family customs and even speak to meaningful places you’ve traveled to. From the bridal shower to the honeymoon, consider incorporating a few nonstandard twists that celebrate your heritage and life experience.

For inspiration, here are a few intriguing wedding traditions from around the globe:
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Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes

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